A care pathway is a goal-oriented, high-quality plan of care based on evidence/best practice guidelines. Care pathways were introduced in an attempt to improve the quality and consistency of stroke rehabilitation.
Care pathways should, intuitively, improve the quality of stroke care; however, surprisingly, evidence does not support this conclusion. It is not clear why this occurs. Care pathways may simply reinforce rather than change practice. This suggests that imposing a blueprint of care, rather than individualizing treatment, does not improve outcomes. Therefore, although organized interdisciplinary stroke rehabilitation units have been shown to improve outcomes, care pathways do not appear to be contributing to this success.
Authors*: Robert Teasell, MD; Norine Foley, BASc; Sanjit Bhogal, MSc; Mark Speechley, MD; and Chelsea Hellings
Evidence reviewed as of before 22-11-2011